Let’s Get Started

I am getting that nervous excitement you get when you know something awesome is about to happen but uncertainty still lies deep.  As I mentioned in the previous post, I will be chronicling a health reset as I begin to focus on the quality of the food I eat and get back into moving more than from the couch and reaching for the remote.

I am a planner, and therefore if I don’t plan, I don’t move.  So I put together a plan for how I will share the progress and information.  If you think you need to make a change, let’s change together, and if you don’t think you are ready, well, in the famous words of the great philosopher Bruno Mars “Don’t believe me, just watch”.

Here is the plan:

  • Friday – Finalize and share recipes and grocery list
  • Saturday – Cook
  • Sunday – Weigh in, photo progress, and work out plan for the week
See that focus

See that focus?

  • Monday- Cardio
  • Tuesday – HIIT(High Intensity Interval Training)
  • Wednesday – Cardio
  • Thursday – HIIT(High Intensity Interval Training)
  • Friday – HIIT(High Intensity Interval Training)
  • Saturday – Cardio
  • Sunday – Rest

My commitment to myself is to remain focused, but not beat myself up or give up when a workout is missed or a poor food choice is made.  The next post will begin this new journey.

And so it begins….

One Year After Rachael Ray

What an amazing year, set off by the awesome experience of being a finalist on The Rachael Ray Culinary Tuition Competition.

Rachael Ray Show

I can’t help but look back on the experience and reflect on how big this opportunity was.  The pride that I have in this life changing experience is not about the appearance on the show, though it was amazing.  The biggest thing that I got from the show was the opportunity to reflect on my life.  Let me explain what I mean.

I have lived my thirty something years on this earth planning and strategizing every single move that I have made in life and career.  When the opportunity came around to send a video in to the show with the idea that the final step would bring me back to the city that I love, to shoot an episode of this amazing show, I didn’t exactly jump at it.  I don’t typically jump at opportunities like that, because this was completely out of my comfort zone.  My sister sent me the opportunity and I contemplated for about a day and decided, what did I have to lose. My job has taken me to a place that I am very far removed from any support system or close friends, I take very few risks, and take less opportunities to just try to see what I may be good at.  So WHY NOT?!  That is what I asked myself, what is the worst thing that can happen, they don’t like my video?  Big deal.  So I put together a video and at the 11th hour with my sister’s help sent it in.  The rest of the story is in my original post.

This being the 1 year anniversary to the day of the first airing of the episode I was featured in, I wanted to give some motivation and encouragement to someone that may need it.  (Please feel free to comment and share this post with others that may need encouragement.)  The process of being selected as a finalist really helped me.  Each conversation with the producers about why I deserved to win, and why I felt so drawn to cooking, and finally writing the essay about my love for food and the culinary experience, led me to exactly where I needed to be.  Though I didn’t win the final reward of a full scholarship to The International Culinary Center, I won the opportunity to discover my passion.  I realize that some people don’t get to even dig in and understand what they are most passionate about because they are so busy living the life that they or others carved out for them.  Once you determine what your passion is, it is important to not ignore it and bury it to never explore it again.  Once you have uncovered your passion, find a way to enjoy that passion, and if you are lucky use that passion to explore your purpose and you just might be able to find a way to monetize or at least regularly explore it for your own personal growth.

Everyone does not get the opportunity to be asked the probing questions to lead you to understanding your passion and purpose.  So, we have to ask ourselves those questions and force ourselves to answer them, and create that vision board that helps you map out exactly what your journey WILL  look like.  Create your intention, and map out the steps it will take for you to follow your passion, in what ever timing you decide is right for you.  But by all means do the work, what is life if we are just living it to complete the next 24 hours, imagine life with dreams and achievements, that you had no idea were possible but you made them possible.  Whew, its powerful just thinking about it.  Know that you have your destiny in your hands, and when you ignore your gifts, you are depriving others of sharing in that gift.

Let’s Plan It (Meal Planning)

After some indulgence, I mean seriously just eating without much thought, it is time to reel it in.  I know that some of you can relate.  You start celebrating wins, and eating through losses, and the next thing you know you are at the store buying new pants… come on, I know I am not the only one.

I first thought about it a few weeks back, but now I am committed, and I wanted to make sure that I share my progress of eating well, and focusing on my health.

 

Working a 9-5 job will require a great deal of planning, so I started by ordering meal preparation containers, because you know that if you stay ready you won’t have to get ready.

The fun began next, I started looking all over Pinterest and Instagram for simple tasty ideas.

Not having an accountability partner, or workout buddy, ensuring that I stay on track is difficult and this is why I figured I will use the blog to keep me accountable.  So share this post with anyone you know, because it will help me with accountability.

  • Friday – finalize the weeks menu (post the shopping list and recipes)
  • Saturday – shop and cook (post the recipes and results)
  • Sunday morning – weigh in and photos (Yup, full transparency)

One of the things that keeps me from eating right is thinking that crappy food tastes better, but I am going to challenge myself and others to show recipes that are really tasty and healthy.  Now if leftovers are not your friend, meal prep is likely not going to be for you.  The goal will be to make about 3 meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and separate them in 5 portions for each.  However, the goal will be to eat at least 5 times a day, which means I need to fill the gaps with healthy snack ideas.  I will not be counting calories, but I will be including protein, and healthy carbs with every meal and snack.  Oh and on the lazy days which do come, I will be making protein shakes, vs driving to the fast food spot by my house, you know the one that has the nerve to tell you “see you tomorrow”, I hate that, only because they have been right often.

The goal is to get back to my fighting figure, and focus on getting my body fat% down, I will be sharing my body fat percentage progress as the weeks go.

For those not interested in the meal prep, I will still be cooking other things, I just won’t be indulging…no for real…I promise, I was a girl scout (girl scout promise).

As far as the fitness portion goes, I will share my fitness goals for the week focusing on 6 days a week of some sort of fitness activity.

If you care to tag along with me on this journey and get better with me, I encourage you to take this time to get your meal prep containers, and some good sneakers.  I will be starting the focused meal prep very soon, and I can not wait to feel more like myself once I get a few weeks under my belt… a smaller belt.

Fit Foodie

I’ll be back to my fit focus

Better Beets

I recently paid a visit to an awesome new burger joint called Salvation Burger.  They served me an amazing beet salad that included every part of the beet.  It was such a simple salad, and I knew I had to duplicate the cook on those beets.  When I grow up to be a professional chef, I wanna be just like Chef April Bloomfield.  I enjoyed the salad so much, that I purchased Chef Bloomfield’s book A Girl and Her Greens, click the book title and you can purchase the book as well.

There were several steps to get to the simple dish, because you have to treat the components very carefully.Water with garlic and thyme

First, I had to boil water salt, garlic cloves and thyme.
Beet Stems and Leaves

After separating the vegetable from the stems and leaves I added the beets to the boiling water, roots skin and all.

I separated the yellow beets from the red beets when I realized the water was going to color the yellow beets.

After the beets were cooked in the water until they are tender, I removed the beets from the water and threw away the garlic and thyme.  Then it was time to cook the stems and the leaves separately since they require a different cooking time.  Once the leaves and stems are cooked in the seasoned water from the beets, you simply toss the beets in olive oil and fresh tarragon leaves, shallots and a great balsamic vinegar.  The best discovery that I made in following Chef Bloomfield’s recipe was the finishing salt that she uses in her recipes.  Maldon Sea Salt is the answer to lifting up all savory recipes, I am convinced. 

The balance between the tarragon and balsamic with the sweetness of the beets is just an awesome surprise.

I know that some readers have been looking for more vegetable ideas to add to their meals, and I highly suggest Chef April Bloomfield’s book to raise the level of your vegetable dishes.  Please feel free to leave comments, and give me feedback

 

Antiguan Breakfast

Traditional Antiguan Breakfast

Growing up I was so hesitant to try different things.  I grew up in Michigan, and was closest to my mom’s family that was local, so most of my family gatherings and holidays reflected my maternal grandparents southern (Georgia and Arkansas) roots of collard greens, macaroni and cheese, ham, dressing, you know all the southern staples. Every year when Holy Week came around, my dad who is from the island of Antigua, would make a traditional breakfast from his home.  This was the one time of year that we would have this meal.  When I say we, I totally mean my mom and dad.  When my dad told me he was making salt fish, spinach with eggplant, and ducana dumpling, I had very little interest, well the ducana dumpling was never denied.   Having not been around my dad’s side of the family as frequently I never saw my cousins eating this traditional island food, or paid attention until I was older.  Anyway I will share that story with the curry chicken blog post, stay tuned.

My uncle makes this breakfast the best, and I look for it anytime I am over his house on a Sunday morning in New York.

I now cook the traditional Antiguan breakfast for Good Friday as well, and embrace all of my Antiguan traditions.  So I thought I would share with you how to make the breakfast for you and your family.  Please feel free to leave comment or pin or share this blog post.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Antiguan Breakfast
Be sure to start preparing the dumplings the night before, so that all that remains will be 30 min boil the next morning. Don't forget to soak the salt fish overnight in water and change the water once to remove the salty flavor
Author:
Cuisine: Caribbean
Recipe type: Breakfast
Serves: 8
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Ingredients
  • Ducana Dumpling
  • 2 cups of coconut shredded (fresh or sweetened)
  • 2 cups of white sweet potato
  • 1¼ cup of sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1½ cup flour
  • ½ cup water or coconut water
  • Salt Fish
  • 16 oz. salted cod
  • 1½ bell pepper (red, green, and yellow)
  • 1 large onion (thinly sliced in rings)
  • 2 garlic cloves (thinly sliced)
  • 4 oz of tomato paste
  • ½ cup of water
  • Chop Up
  • 1 large egg plant
  • 1½ container of baby spinach

 

Ducana Dumpling

I started with the preparation for the ducana dumpling.  Ducana dumplings are the sweet part of the meal.  It is a really tasty blend of sweet potatoes, coconut, sugar, flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, and coconut water.  You simply mix all of the ingredients and spoon it on foil squares to make small foil packets (traditionally banana leaves).

sweet potato for ducana
coconut for ducana

sweet potato for ducana

I wanted to do this dish as traditional as possible, so I started with a whole coconut, and worked my biceps to crack it open, and shred the flesh on a grater.  I also shredded the sweet potato on the grater as well.
seasoning the ducana

After I added all of the seasoning, the memories started to come back, when I knew what was coming together in the kitchen.
 flour for ducana

After adding the flour I mixed it all together and started scooping the mix on foil squares.

You can cook them right away, or make them ahead and cook them later.

I decided to make mine a day in advance, and then boil them for 30 minutes

Salt Fish

This is the part that made me the most hesitant as a kid.  This salted cod.  It makes the kitchen kinda stink for a little bit when you open the package.  I purchased the cod that had the bones removed so that I wouldn’t have to spit out bones as I took every bite, though, I think that is kind of part of the experience.


I immediately put the fish in a pot and add water, to start the 24 hour soaking, I changed the water about twice through the 24 hours.  And once I was ready to cook it, I drained it one more time and added fresh water, this gets most of the salty taste out.  I boiled 16oz of fish for 45 minutes.

While the fish was cooking I began cooking the vegetables (green pepper, red pepper, yellow pepper, garlic, onions, scotch bonnet) for the salt fish, and once it was softening I add tomato paste and a bit of water until I get the right color.

I broke up the cooked salt fish into small bite sized pieces.

Once the fish was broken up into small pieces, I added it to the vegetables.  And after looking at dish at its final state, it is so pretty, I don’t know why I was so hesitant to try it.

The last part of the meal is the easiest, we call it Chop Up, and it is simply made by sautéing eggplant and mashing it into steamed spinach.

I got a little anxious and didn’t get my eggplant smashed enough, but the flavor was there.  Whenever I prepare this or eat it, I think of a song my dad used to play all of the time for me by Mighty Sparrow (Calypso genius, ask my dad).  Though Sparrow’s song apparently had a bit of a mixed meaning, but oh well, I like the song.

We typically eat the breakfast with a crusty french baguette, and the perfect bite is a little bit of everything at once.   My uncle makes this amazing spicy cucumber salad that is pickled in, well I don’t know what but I love it, and recently his son sent me the recipe for it so I can’t wait to try to duplicate it as well.  Thanks Deke, I love you and get better soon.

Healthy Jump Start (Day 10)

There is nothing like completions and achievement.  I have successfully completed the 10-Day Green Smoothie Cleanse again.  I decided not to make it about the scale, and completely about jump starting back into my healthy eating focus.  When I say healthy eating, I mean that I will be focusing on making sure that I eat a more balanced meal going forward.  Each meal will have a protein, and a vegetable or a healthy carb.

  Day 9 of the smoothie cleanse included spinach, water, apple, frozen mangoes, frozen strawberries, stevia and flax meal.  Around this time is when I start contemplating stopping short.  I mean, why not, I was already winning after 8 days.  But, I stuck it out to reach my goal of completion.

Day 10 of the smoothie cleanse included kale, spring mix, water, frozen peaches, pineapple, stevia, and flax.  Now the goal is to ease into regular balanced meals gently, to avoid upsetting your whole entire world… If you know what I mean.  

Let me know if you try the cleanse, and keep me posted on your progress.  Feel free to leave a comment.

Healthy Jump Start Day 8

Yesterday I completed day 8 and in my spare time I have done nothing but meal plan for after this cleanse.  It is so important to remain on point after the cleanse to continue to feel the focus and clarity that the cleanse provides.  I am eager to complete this, only because I am craving healthy options and cooking, since the only action my kitchen has seen as of late is in my Vitamix, but alas I begin Day 9


Day 6 included a smoothie with spinach, water, pineapple, peaches, bananas, stevia and flax meal.  The most delicious smoothies is on day 6 and day 7.

Day 7 included a smoothie with spring mix, spinach, water banana, pineapple, mango, mixed berries, stevia, and flax meal.

Day 8 included a smoothie with kale, spinach, water, apple, banana, blueberries, stevia, and flax meal.

If you don’t want to complete an entire 10-Day Smoothie Cleanse, try to add the smoothies to your breakfast options, or do a 5 day smoothie cleanse.

 

 

Healthy Jump Start Day 5

Day 5 is complete and Day 6 begins.  I started the 10-Day Green Smoothie Cleanse this week and I am feeling so much better each day.  The cravings for fatty food have gone away and I am completely focused and actually looking forward to cooking and eating some healthy meals.  If you want to lean more about the Green Smoothie Cleanse, you can visit the Facebook page where the author and nutritionist, JJ Smith shares great tips to stay on track as well as inspiring stories to keep you encouraged.

My day 4 consisted of a smoothie with kale, spinach, apples, frozen peaches, frozen mixed berries, stevia, and flax meal.  Snacking on salad, and almonds and apples with almond butter.

Day 5 consisted of spinach, frozen peaches, seedles grapes, blueberries, stevia, and flax meal.  Snacking on salad, and almonds and apples with almond butter.

Grilled vegetables

freefoodphotos.com credit

The coming blog posts will focus on meal planning, but still enjoying the food.  No plain chicken breast, broccoli, and brown rice.  I think that as long as I enjoy the process and plan ahead I will be in great shape… literally.  So be prepared for some great breakfast options, and snack ideas to add to your food options.

 

Healthy Jump Start Day 3

Day 3 of the 10-Day Green Smoothie Cleanse by JJ Smith is over and I have to say, the word I think of is clarity.  One of the things I really like about this jump start is that it provides an energy boost.  The food that makes you sluggish and keeps you lazy is eliminated in order to allow you to feed your body with fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats and proteins. Plus I’m not “hangry” (hungry and angry)

The first few days I was craving the burger I had at Umami Burger in NYC over the weekend.

Umami Manly Burger

But by the middle of day 3, I was wanting more fruits and vegetables, like this kale salad.

Kale Salad

Day 2 Smoothie was a blend of spring mix, banana, apple, strawberries and flax meal.  Day 3 Smoothie was a blend of spring mix, spinach, blueberries, apple, and flax meal.

I am more alert all day at work already, and I focus a lot on my water intake throughout the day with the smoothies.  I can’t wait to continue this and start sharing the healthy recipes that I will be making.

Healthy Jump Start

Just about once a quarter I like to refresh my nutrition with a nutritional wake up, or refocus.  One of my favorite nutritional refreshes is the 10-Day Green Smoothie Cleanse by JJ Smith.  This cleanse allows me to refocus myself on simple foods, and get my water intake under control.  I also use the time to reflect on a better commitment to myself, meaning my nutrition, my fitness, as well as my personal growth.  You can purchase the book here.  Typically I lose about 10 lbs with the cleanse, but more than that, the 10-Day Green Smoothie Cleanse helps with my focus, and my energy, and the weight loss that it kick starts certainly doesn’t hurt.

1 10-Day Green Smoothie Cleanse

 

Today is day 1 of the 10 day Green Smoothie cleanse for me and what I find is that the smoothies are easy to drink and most of them are pretty tasty.  You would be surprised at how much you can mask kale, spinach and spring mix in a green smoothie.   Each smoothie includes the nutrients that are needed throughout the day

Day 1 was a Berry Green smoothie with a blend of spinach, apples, frozen mangoes, frozen strawberries, grapes and water.  All smoothies include flax meal and stevia.  The cleanse does give you a lot of options for snacks, like raw and crunchy vegetables, and high protein snacks like nuts, and boiled eggs.

I am pairing this refresh with slowly reintroducing running to my workout regimen, y’all pray for me. Me and running broke up at the end of last year, but I a hoping that by starting a Couch to 5 K program for the next several weeks, I will begin to enjoy the run again, because I know that the results are worth it.  The next few posts will cover my experience as I move thru this cleanse, and will be followed by a series of healthy meal options.